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SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans

March 14, 2018

Pi in the Sea and the Sky

Espy Thomson, A Watch, Colorado College


Pilot whales, east of Otago

Current Position
45 degrees 47.9 minutes South, 170 degrees 38.4 minutes East

Ship’s Heading & Speed
155 SSE, 6.3nm

Overcast with wind from NxW, 16.9 degrees C., Relatively smooth sailing with 3-4 foot waves

Souls on board

Today, the 14th of March, is International Pi Day. I was on morning watch so I was able to sleep in until 5:50 am and then stumbled, bleary eyed, to breakfast where we were treated to quiche pie. Pi Day holds a special place in many children's hearts. It is the day where they can earn extra credit in math classes by reciting as many digits of Pi as they can or by bringing in homemade pies. Here aboard the ship, Pi Day is about all the types of pies our steward Sabrina can make and the number of digits our champions Jeff and Summer can recite.

As I stepped on deck at 6:45am, I realized that I had overdressed. Yesterday was freezing and wet. So naturally today I donned three layers of pants and seven layers of jackets, including my yellow foulies. I emerged on deck and discovered that I was going to be the Shadow for the watch. For those who don't know, Shadows are an in-between position as leadership is transferred from the watch officers to us. When one is a Shadow, they essentially are expected to make sure everything that needs to be done on a watch happens. This includes drawing up a schedule, assigning roles, directing sail handling and any other tasks that may need to be done. The watch officers help only as needed. So I waddled back down the stairs in all my layers to draw up a schedule for the six hours on watch.

It's sometimes easy to forget the magic of the ocean when you are deep in the watch schedule. As I was running down (and by running I mean walking at a safe pace in front of my watch officers) to log the retrieval of the Neuston Net from the science deck, the call came. "WHAAAALES!" Everyone on the deck looked around. Off the port side, approximately 125ft away, a group of around 35 whales had surfaced. They were "Pi"lot Whales. Many of them were spy hopping/pitch polling. Their entire heads and some portion of their fins rose above the water line and bobbed there, looking around. They were black against the blue grey water. We rolled together in the waves, except they clearly belonged, and we bobbed above the water. Sometimes we could see each other and sometimes waves separated us. When they finally rose and ducked beneath the water we all held our breath, hoping that they would come up again. They did, a while later, blowing big mists of water amidst the roles of the waves. Then they dove again and disappeared.

It's hard to explain the feeling of seeing these animals, especially on such a special day as PI Day, but I guess grateful is as good a word as any. That afternoon I climbed up the foremast with Katie, Bastian and Emma P. We stood above the ship, looking out and down on the horizon. The ocean stretched in every direction and the waves rocked our boat, which looked very very small below us. Somewhere a bell rang. "Dinner for A and C" someone called. We climbed down the mast, looking forward to the last pie meal of the day: Pot Pie.

To my family: give the dogs hugs from me and hugs to you too. Good luck Asa with the start of your season!

- Espy Thomson, A Watch, Colorado College

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,The Global Ocean: New Zealand, • Topics: s277  study abroad • (1) Comments
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#1. Posted by Ellen on March 16, 2018

Love this, Espy!  What a great experience you are having. Although just reading it makes me a little seasick.



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